The business website has come a long way from its static origins. Even so, it continues to evolve and adapt to the unique needs of small businesses owners. We’re at an exciting point — breaking away from the antiquated standard into something new, more impactful and beneficial for small businesses.
In the Beginning
In the late ’90s, the business website began as more of a brochure, lacking functionality and depth. There were no app markets or third-party services. It was static, boring and more of an advertisement channel than a functional tool. During this time, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) couldn’t typically build websites themselves and were forced to outsource, if they had enough budget to do so. The power of the website was, in large part, exclusively in the hands of large businesses who had significant resources to spend.
From Developer Dependence to Self-reliance
In the mid ’00s, we saw a shift as DIY site builders such as Wix emerged, enabling businesses to manage their sites predominantly in-house. SMBs may still hire developers, but these new DIY platforms allowed non-technical users to do very powerful things at a fraction of the cost. We’re still moving through this phase. People continue to hire designers, but for a different purpose than in the past. Still, this phase created a surge in the self-reliance of small business owners, who can now do much more than previously imagined.
Cue the ‘Template Revolution!’
In order to give their users more autonomy and to make professional design more accessible, site builders began offering templates which enabled businesses to do more for their website internally, but, arguably, also suffocated their uniqueness by trying to fit them into boxes, with many websites looking similar in design. This was problematic because it’s a business’s unique traits that set it apart from the competition and make it standout. Restricting their ability to showcase this on their website limited their chances of success.
These limitations inspired us at POWr to try to make it easy for small businesses to showcase and highlight their superpowers, and in turn, help them achieve success. They need tools to them break out of the template box and embrace what makes them great.
Launch of the App Market
The introduction of the app market prompted a sudden change in the expectations of SMBs. They could now manage contacts, send emails, collect data, etc., and expected to be able to accomplish all of this from a central platform without having to pay a hefty sum. This access to app markets and site builders allows small businesses to create quality websites with diverse and comprehensive functionality, without being marketing or design experts.
Future Challenges for Site Builders
While these developments are exciting, the business website has some challenges ahead. These include:
- Offering solutions that cater to SMBs’ unique needs, while remaining functional and affordable.
- Consolidating these elements into a single location.
These challenges offer opportunities for innovation. We’re embracing these opportunities to tackle new obstacles. Our goal is to give small businesses tools that move them closer to managing their sites independently.
So, What’s the Solution?
In order to meet these challenges effectively, tools will need to be more intuitive, functional and easy-to-use in order to create the optimum website experience. It will be imperative to focus on customization in order for businesses to effectively communicate what makes them unique.
Democratization of Communication
The exclusive power that large organizations had in the past is now in the hands of small businesses. It’s extremely important to serve these people. This also levels out the playing field and democratizes the power of online communication (consider the effect YouTube has had as a platform for making new viral stars that would otherwise be unheard of). SMBs are doing important things that have the power to change the world, and we see it as our mission to provide them with the tools they need so that they can compete with huge organizations that have access to more resources.
Ultimately, as long as the goal of SaaS services remains to help small businesses be more efficient and effective, the business website will not only remain relevant, but continue to evolve into a powerful resource to showcase their uniqueness and empower them toward success. It’s these goals that keep us moving forward, innovating and churning out creative solutions to ensure the growth and success of SMBs.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of posts from guest authors invited to share their viewpoints on the Tech Adoption Index blog. We welcome a variety of voices to enrich the conversation we’re fostering on the development of the small-business cloud. The views expressed in these guest posts are those of the author. Please message us if you would like to submit a post for consideration.